I'll concede. There's plenty to squeeze into this first one. To lend some context to the stories, insights and opinions I intend to post on uncommontragedy, or perhaps a standalone article on the who, what, and why of yours truly.
I am Ian Ling, aged twenty-three (as of 2017), caught in medias res.
There's studies - Economics and Political Science at the National University of Singapore. There's writing. I took up a few gigs as a writer at several publications - ultimately motivated toward a watershed of sorts. There's photography. My passion and motivation most days: in my late teens I began to carry a Rollei 35 loaded with some Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5. I kept it snug, accessible, and always by my side, ready to capture a moment almost instantaneously with a subtle, crisp click from its leaf shutter.
And then there's people.
It's odd that a perennial cynic like me would claim to have such a passion. But an illuminating conversation today revealed the almost contrarian notion that the most embittered people tend to be the most hopeful: perhaps a result of some form of emotional investment. Yes, people. In the bleary, soporific haze of culture, opinion and emotion, truths about the human condition can be elusive.
And that's where the sojourns began. Frustrated by the noise of the media and its concomitant interests and biases, I made sure I saw it myself.
Far from a lofty ideal of independent journalism, or an altruistic vision to tell stories of poverty, loss and warfare, I instead saw the need to represent the hopes, dreams and reality of the diverse peoples of the world faithfully. No need for statistics or bloodshed to evoke emotions: a faithful look into the hearts, the homes and the livelihoods of these people bear a stark beauty that itself tells a story no pen can ever convey.
Of course, equal parts saudade and hindsight bias obfuscate the process of evaluation. But more on that some other time.
It was only in my twenties, after my brief stint in the military, did photography, and its attendant (to me) qualities of mindfulness and empathy, enter into a state of resurgence. And that was when I was rejuvenated with a newfound sense of purpose.
I, yet again, began carrying a camera everywhere I went, in a special compartment in my bag.
This conveniently heralds the renaissance in this career I've projected upon my life. Hopeful yet cautious; the possibilities infinite, yet distant. Of course, my travels had launched me in the path of strangers aplenty, but charity begins at home. I have since focused my creative faculties into untangling the forsaken intricacies of this society I have taken for granted.
What is uncommontragedy, then?
What's so uncommon about my tragedy?
Economists have a theory that unregulated goods face their eventual demise through exploitation by private parties. They call its the tragedy of the commons. The good in question here is conviction.
Conviction of one's narratives. Conviction of one's values. Of one's raison d'être.
Uncommontragedy serves as my concerted effort to share these lessons, experiences and ideals in a world where emotion trumps facts, and obfuscation supersedes clairvoyance.
I aim to share a variety of viewpoints: through insight posts like this, and through other forms: narrative, opinion, review.
I will also be sharing my humble photographic insights and opinions on gear, technique, craft and vision.
These posts will be mirrored on Medium. Many great things are happening.
Hang in tight.